Reno: Francis' Asian Bistro
Visited Francis' Asian Bistro a few months ago, shortly after a positive review in the RGJ. Our other inspiration to try Francis' was that Oceano's sushi is our favorite in Reno--always very fresh. On one visit, our server told us that their seafood buyer was Francis' wife, and that she only buys for Oceano and Francis'.
We found it a bit mixed, with some great flavors but some drawbacks.
We got a window seat with a great view, one of the best things about the space (ex-Cafe Soleil).
Edamame to start was good, hard to go wrong there.
Our tempura soft-shell crab appetizer was small, burnt, and overbattered.
Garlic-cucumber salad was tasty--nice balance of flavors
Miso soup was delicious. What marred the dish was the fact that we were given cheap plastic 'Asian spoons' that had a ridge running down the centerline (obviously from the molding process) that scratched up our lips. Given that almost any dive Asian place has better spoons than this (and that ceramic spoons of this sort can be bought cheaply), it's puzzling why nobody on staff at Francis' has realized how horrible these spoons are and done something about it.
We ordered a bottle of sake, and when it was brought to the table, it came with regular wine glasses. We mentioned to our server that we found this odd, and he said 'Well, sake is actually wine made out of rice!'. Thanks, we knew. We've just always seen sake served with more traditional sake-specific drinking vessels.
Mains were delicious. Steamed chilean sea bass with ginger and scallions was perfectly cooked and had amazing flavor. Korean-style sizzling short ribs were great as well.
We asked about desert. It's been a few months, so I forget the exact response, but I think they had a choice of chocolate cake or vanilla ice cream. The server said they were still working on coming up with Asian-influenced desserts. Ummm, if the restaurant's been open for months, what's the hold-up?
To sum up, some great flavors (especially the sea bass) and well-prepared food; some big disappointments. Haven't been back since our first vist; it would be interesting to see if they've improved on any of their shortcomings. If so, it would be a truly great place. For now, I'd say it's mixed, but with huge potential.
"Francis' Asian Bistro - On the pricey side but well worth the $$$. They don't do all you can eat Sushi and the reason is pretty clear. They use lots of quality fish and other ingredients in the Sushi. Great view, good bar and wine list. Staff is fine. But mainly, love the food so highly recommend it. Try the potstickers, which are reportedly made from scratch in the restaurant. The Chilean Sea Bass melts in your mouth and you can choose a number of seasoning alternatives. I've never had Salmon like the piece I had at Francis. I know that Mrs. Wong works for one of the largest fish distributors in the area so provides the best ingredients for their restaurant. And I don't agree with the other poster - Francis is definitely NOT a jerk - he's always been very gracious and accommodating with us. Nice guy with a classy joint.
I ate at Francis' Asian Bistro about a year ago and was quite impressed with the sevice and menu. After taking my mother there for her birthday; I will never return. The service was poor due to the speed of the kitchen and I have had better Chinese out of a box. I ordered the Bistro Fried Rice at $15, I would have paid $5. My mother had the Kung Pao Chicken, it was served warm, at best and had no flavor. Needless to say... I won't be back.
My wife and I have eaten here maybe 3 times. We were wowed by the interior design the first time. After the last time we will never go back. The service seems very pretensious and like "oh you should be hounred to be in our place". The food is OK but way over priced. Elegent "American Chinese food?" The point of contension was not so much the food but the attitude of Francis the owner. My wife ordered sukuakai, as she had severl times before. The meat this time was full of gristle and not really what it should have been, so we returned it and then Francis comes over and says in a very abrupt was that "that just the way the meat is". He very begrudgingly made another order. This is not the way to keep your customers. I think this "Asian Bistro" trend I am seeing locally is not really a good thing. Take American Chinese food (sweet and sour et al.) dress it up with a black square plate and call it new and innovative? I'll give a place credit if it can take some real Chinese food and be creative with it. Jazmine's chef Quoc seems to have it together. They may have had start up pains but try it now, but don't order that Americanized stuff, get the specials.
So to sum up, Francis's is thumbs down, or should I say its Francis himself!